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### Introduction

Solving the world's crisis will not be achieved by huge corporations and international efforts. But people doing it themselves; through local people solving their own food crisis's, improving their own health and upgrading their own housing. When most affected by a problem – successful communities take responsibility in solving it. In this fashion – individuals gain the political and economic issues for their region – and as a result, produce the best solutions possible. For example, aid organizations are already beginning to fund grassroots movements in impoverished nations. These small groups of people working together are able to combat their problems more effectively than non profit organizations who operate with financial restrictions and are not directly emotionally connected to the issues.

"The building of a more equitable global society is proceeding in localities where people participate in, rather than just observe, the solving of their problems"

### Roof Over Their Heads

Human societies around the world, no matter how poor, always find a way to put a roof over their head. However, there remains a housing problem worldwide. In 1977, 800 million people lived in badly built buildings, with increases in world populations the amount of people in a bad state has definitely increased. Most people in the poor and middle class are fixing there own homes. Public housing has become an option in the past century, highlighted by the Soviet Union's control on the public housing markets. However, they have only been able to alter horizontal slums into vertical ones. What should be done about the inability for all people to have houses? Leave it to the individual the author says. Give them land to construct their own housing. In India, a place with small disposable income and arguably a very happy people, 85% of the homes are owned by the people. In comparison to the U.S., which is affluent but may not be the happiest people (how much Prozac is sold each year to keep people chugging through the day), 66% own there own houses.

In 1977 the cost to renovate a home in the U.S. was $15 000 per unit compared to new home construction at$45 000 per unit. Obviously, it pays to renovate peoples current homes, instead of giving them brand new 'affordability' residences. Basically, the poor need help in terms of land, basic services and the means and opportunity to improve their communities and homes. Handing the poor properties that they have nothing invested into (free or heavily subsidize public residences) and that are at a great distance from their jobs - this only perpetuates poverty.

The most important contribution the government could provide is free access to land. Funds from the government should focus on self help repairs and be done with long-term financing - without credit checks from the banks (as most in poverty would not qualify for bank credit). Leveraging the local market is the best method to achieve the means, and although difficult to measure the benefits of self-help housing to the community and the individual directly it is an effective method of building a solid community. Further, housing the poor should be best used with their own builders, as they will undoubtedly take the initiative by investing more time and labour into their own dwelling.

And as John Turner Said: "When dwellers control the major decisions and are free to make their own contribution to the design, construction, and management of their housing, both the process and the environment produced simulate individual and social well being"

### Small is Bountiful

In the 1970's there was an increase in efficiency of the farming process to ensure those who needed food most got it. This was caused by the increase of food prices and national food shortages. Countries began to rely more on their own resources and started to gain an interest in home gardening and collective agriculture. Self reliance has given greater support to owner operated farms and less to imports. With the increase in population and decreasing supplies there has been apparent decrease in per capita fish consumption and per capita grain consumption. This decrease in supplies was caused by past abuse of croplands and oceanic fisheries. This lack of supplies has increased the vulnerability of countries who suffer from unpredictable changes in climate, economics and politics. These factors have made it particularly difficult for consumers and farmers in the current organization of agricultural production. The World Food Conference in Rome in 1974 came out with a strategy to assist countries with insufficient supplies of food. This strategy focused on avoiding future food shortages and sudden price changes with a world food reserve and providing greater aid to small farmers in developing countries.

Food self-reliance has begun at the local level, as seen in the United States, with an estimated 32 million households, approximately 43 percent of all families raised fruits and vegetables in 1977 on an area equivalent to approximately seven million acres. These areas consisted of backyards, city lots and balconies. These numbers were consistent over the last few years and with a recent poll performed by the government seven million people stated that they would garden if given a plot owned by the government. In Europe the interest in gardening exceeds the supply of land available to do so. There was a growth in the number of people on British waiting lists for a government-owned plot of land from 21,000 to 57,000 in 1974. With such great interest in small scale food production the United States government allocated $1.5 million in 1977 towards a pilot urban gardening project in six cities and because of the success has been further expanded to 16 cities 1978, with$3 million in funding. To coincide with this program many school systems now encourage gardening, as witnessed in Cleveland, Ohio with as many as 21,000 children performing such tasks.

A well maintained backyard garden can produce a pound of vegetables per square foot. This means that the average American could satisfy their annual vegetable needs with a 10-by-30-foot plot. These results could be even greater with more sophisticated gardening methods. It's not only the economy that motivates consumers to become producers but also the better quality of the vegetables that are produced along with the satisfaction gained from the relaxation and exercise.

Besides the many benefits of gardening, there are some downsides to the process. Currently, there is growing evidence of high levels of lead, cadmium and other heavy metals in vegetables grown in polluted urban areas.

As witnessed in both Ghana and the Philippines, food self-reliance strategies have provided improved nutrition through home vegetable growing. The Jamaican government introduced the "Grow Our Own Food" campaign and the proportion of homegrown food in the household diet grew from 38 to 56 percent from 1973 to 1975. The amount of income spent on food decreased and child malnutrition dropped significantly. Most of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union are also turning towards consumer food production. They have shown a greater commitment towards private production from small plots allotted to workers on collective and state farms. This small-scale production is very important to offset some of the shortfall in food production on larger state holdings. More than one fifth of the potatoes, fruits, and vegetables and one third of the livestock products now come from private production. In Hungary, 36 percent of agricultural produce also comes from small scale operations on 15 percent of the agricultural land.

In China, an estimated 25 to 30 percent of total household income in the early sixties came from the private production of vegetables, poultry and pigs. No more than five percent of the produce from the worked plots of land can be used to supplement the grower's family food budget or is sold to the commune's purchasing cooperative. It can also be sold by the gardener directly to their neighbours. During the cultural revolution private plots of land were not used which contributed to the overall decline in food production. In 1971, Premier Chou En-Lai believed that private plots of land were necessary to stimulate initiative of the peasants. This allowed them to add these earnings to their daily income and also provide them with nutrients in their diet. Currently, Chinese officials monitor the use of private plots so that individual profit motive does not undermine the collective economy.

#### Solar Power

Solar power is appropriate for community and individual control. Technology to harness the abundant power is currently available. Solar technology is adaptable for many situations and ideal for poor countries that have a lot of sunlight and green plants. For example barrels of water made of local materials can be used to create a solar heater when placed on a roof.

Consumer energy production gives technical and political power to the user. Truly, "Power to the people". Nuclear power and oil based energy economies require security to protect wastes and advertising respectively. Social controls would not exist in a solar based society.

Solar heating is a simple and effective use of direct sunlight. Stone or water can be used to trap heat, where it can be used later for heating or simply to provide warm water. Over two million Japanese and 30,000 Australians depend on solar water heaters. The roofs of builds are the most appropriate place for solar water heaters.

Photovoltaic cells directly convert the energy from the sun into electricity. Initial costs of solar cells are dropping quickly; as they become more economical solar cells will meet more of the energy demand at a local level. Contrary to non-renewable energy, solar cells are better suited to be decentralized which also reduces transmission and storage issues. This added competitiveness will break up monopolies held by utilities companies.

#### Hydroelectric Power

Hydroelectric plants are also an effective source of energy that has typically taken the form of large plants. Smaller more efficient use of hydropower along streams disrupts the environment less, but aren't being utilized to their capacity. China's self reliance strategy works well with hydroelectric power as they had 15,000 stations by 1968 with plans for more. A survey by the American Army Corps of Engineers cited 50,000 potential hydropower sites. The potential power production from these sites is larger than that currently produced by nuclear plants.

#### Windmills

Windmills are technically simple and inexpensive and can be adapted for local needs including grinding flour. A community like Gelebs in Ethopia is an example of the application of windmills. Missionaries installed a windmill which pumped water from an aquifer for irrigation. This allowed for year round cultivation and a steady source of water not provided by the limited rainfall in the region.

Homeowners can sell power to the utilities in their area, an example of this is shown in New York. A group placed a windmill on their roof that powers a light and pumps water through their solar panel. Although a limited amount of power was produced the lack of dependence on the grid meant their lights were still on during a 1977 blackout.

#### Firewood

Sustainable firewood supplies are kept by South Korean village associations. The associations receive government assistance while the villages reap the benefits result in two million acres of tress being played by 1977. Firewood has a future as a source of energy making communities self reliant. Finland and Sweden provide 14 and 7% of their respective energy budgets from firewood, relying mainly on industry waste.

#### Biofuel: Organic Waste Material

Methane gas is produced from the decomposition of organic matter in anaerobic digestion. Controlled fermentation can produced a product suitable to replace natural gas. Biogas plants intake waste and produce usable energy and high quality fertilizer. Attempts to begin using biogas began in the 1940s in India. Although they see limited use in India, 25,000 small plants, there are widely used in China with 4.3 million units by 1977.Social structures and barriers may have played a part in the different acceptance levels of biogas in India and China. The Chinese were more responsive to the technology since they are already acclimatized to working together while the inequality in India's caste system does not help to spread the benefits of biogas.

#### Biofuel: Energy Crops

In Brazil, a government push to reduce dependence on imported oil has lead to a 1981 goal of 20% of gasoline being replaced by alcohol from energy crops. These crops include cassava and sugar cane. This increase demand for the plants requires decisions to be made about land use and production of food versus energy crops.

### References

Stokes, Bruce. Local Response to Global Problems. Washington, DC: Worldwatch Institute, 1978 (c).

This Book was summarized by Jerome Arthur, Graeme Armster, Landon Gardner & Bryn Sexton

Page data
Authors G.Armster, Jerome Arthur, Landon Gardner, B.Sexton 2010 CC-BY-SA-4.0 37 No main image G.Armster, Jerome Arthur, Landon Gardner, B.Sexton (2010). "AT Sourcebook/Local Self-Reliance/Local Responses to Global Problems: A Key to Meeting Basic Human Needs". Appropedia. Retrieved August 9, 2022.
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